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Ptyas carinata Eyecap Successfully Removed

The Ptyas carinata (keeled rat snake) I caught on the mountain last night had an eyecap that was lodged in the eye-socket and not coming out anytime soon. I’d never removed one before, but, having watched some video about it – I thought I’d give it a try.

What Are Snake Eye Caps?
Snakes have no eyelids, and the skins they shed regularly – covers the eye as well. When the snake skins shed – fall off – there is the covering for the eyes that comes off as well. When they don’t shed with the rest of the skin and get stuck over the eye – they are known as eye caps, or retained eye caps.

Snakes with mites or other infections around the eye might retain the eye caps after a shed, and this is probably what happened to my rat snake, as he had an obvious infection of some sort around the eye.

First I held the rat snake’s head with my right hand and touched the eye cap with a piece of cloth to see how she reacted. No reaction. I wanted to see – was she going to really get agitated if I tried to remove it? She didn’t. Then, using a piece of tape I rolled up into a little stick I attempted to brush against the eye cap from the nose to the neck… hoping it would come off. It did not. The snake still wasn’t agitated. I took a jeweler’s screwdriver and very gently eased it under a little ridge of the eye cap and lifted the cap slowly. The snake was still not having a bad time of it – so I kept going. Eventually it was off completely. Then she livened up because she could see how close I was to her.

Feels good have the snake better off for having seen me, not worse off.

Exterior eye-cap from Ptyas carinata

I will let this keeled rat snake go at the Thailand mountain I found him on, but in a different location. There is a place I know they are always complaining about the rats. This snake will help with that.

Will shoot some video and photos as I let her go, but it’s with the iPhone – which isn’t the best, but hopefully will give me something usable for YouTube. These keeled rat snakes in Thailand are lovely animals – I hope you get to see one sometime. They are non-venomous, and though they bite if agitated, they can also be hand-held if you know how to do it.


Snake posts by Vern Lovic. Amateur herpetologist roaming about Thailand on field herping tours and events to find king cobras, kraits, vipers, corals, keelbacks, and other snakes native to Thailand. FYI - Thailand has over 200 snake species. Here's our latest book with detailed information on Thailand's 35 Deadly Snakes. "Is That Snake In Your House Dangerous? Identify Deadly Thailand Snakes In Under 5 Minutes!" INFO HERE.

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